Tiko & Friends

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Homeward Bound

Posted by happylyns on August 13, 2013 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

Fowey was something of a shock to the system after the West coast of Ireland experiences. Back to being charged £18 a night for a sinking pontoon with no water/electricity. Transport to land a ridiculous £3 per person each way. A good time you might think for our new outboard to die on us. No matter though as we had acquired a new crew member for a couple of days - extra rowing power for making it to the pub and back! The view is something of a transformation in Fowey, having made it into harbour in the early afternoon we quickly became surrounded by huge gin palaces, with sour faced owners. An exception to this rule was a lovely couple on their yacht in front of ours, who'd done some similar coast exploration in Ireland. The morning of our departure a splash in the water was heard followed by some shouts indicating that the poor chap had fallen in the river whilst tinkering with his tender. Aleks came to the rescue to hook him out as the wife wasn't strong enough to pull him back on board. Drama of the morning over, we left Fowey in spectacular sunshine and a following wind.



(Surrounded)

 

(On the row from the pontoon to Fowey)


We decided that as we had the help of Moe, our crew member until Plymouth, we would give the Spinnaker it's first airing of the trip. After considerable spraying with lubricants and rather technical tweaks and bangs the spinnaker pole was up and running. Not before we discovered an unwelcome stowaway in the shape of this rather interesting looking fish, well dried into some form of fish jerky.



(Fish jerky found in spinaker pole)


(Moe at the helm, Elly enjoying the ride) 


Fascination aside we set about launching the Spinnaker, with surprising success for its first launch. Before long we were storming along at 7 knots beating everything else on the water. It was great to see Tiko in his full colourful splendour, as unbeknownst to us this was to be our final sail of the season. Rounding Rame head and approaching Plymouth Breakwater held a certain amount of excitement and a certain amount of dread.



(First outing for the spinnaker)


(Plymouth Breakwater, last seen three month ago) 


A welcome party awaited us in Sutton Harbour, and we enjoyed a few bubbles before going our separate ways and wandering back to our lodgings on dry land. The front garden is something of a jungle which we'll have to tackle in due course, but until then we have a busy week ahead, rushing up to London to obtain visas and sort out the mayhem back at the house. The first night sleeping back in our own house was not an easy one, and I think we both slept badly as a result of being back on terra firma. We felt like traitors leaving Tiko to fend for himself in Sutton Harbour after he's looked after us so completely for three months. It most certainly wasn't a welcome change from sleeping aboard Tiko, the night punctuated with sirens, student screechings and the odd wheely bin hitting the pavement. This and the absence of a gentle rocking left us pining for Tiko.



(Aleks, Aleks' Dad John, Moe, Carole, Elly) 



(Front garden is in there somewhere...)


The difficult decision however has been made to have Tiko lifted and stored in Plymouth until next season, allowing us the convenience of having him nearby to do cleaning and maintenance over the autumn and winter. The potential for having two weeks sailing when Aleks gets back from his job offshore was thwarted by the cost of keeping it somewhere in the mean time for the sake of those two weeks. We spent one last night down on Tiko with friends to dispel the sleepless night on land and the oncoming task of clearing the boat of our possessions. Thoughts now will turn to planning next year's adventure and hopefully meeting up with some of those that we have bonded with over the past few months. There is also the question of what I will do with myself, well I guess watch this space

 

So it's not so much Goodbye for Tiko and Friends, but rather "à bientôt"


(Tiko was lifted this morning, much of the antifouling having worn off naturally from the keel, exposing the rusty mark at the foot - evidence of our grounding in Lagavulin, other than that my paint job looking not too bad!


(Tiko's new view for the winter at Blagdon's boatyard, overlooking Mayflower Marina and The Royal William Yard)


Reflecting on the Highlights

Posted by happylyns on August 8, 2013 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (1)

On the 28 hour crossing back across the channel we had plenty of time to reflect on our favourite moments of the last three months around Ireland. It was sad to see Ireland slowly disappear on the horizon as we sailed away, riding the waves towards Cornwall. At the same time it was great to reminisce and remember how lucky we are to have embarked on such an amazing and eventful adventure. Aleks is to leave to go on a job offshore next week, so it's hard to feel like our adventure isn't coming to a close. The intention is to carry on sailing for a few weeks after he gets back, maybe taking on the Channel Islands again, perhaps without the stress of having Elly on board. Elly for one will be glad to be back on dry land for a while, and get back into her favourite pass time, running like a mad thing picking up various birds. I myself have mixed feelings about returning to Plymouth so thought it best to crack out the following two lists:-



(My iPad Imray app tracking our movements)


Top Memories of the Round Ireland Trip:-

 

- Meeting the friendliest people in the world in Killybegs, Donegal and being welcomed in as if we were family and laughing harder than we ever thought possible with all the local characters

 

- Driving around the Isle of Man in a drop top Mercedes in the sunshine, befriending some lovely bikers and listening to the top riders telling it how it is on the Manx radio - John McGuinness: "I just followed through in my leathers and had to go for a shower between races!"

 

- Anchoring in Derrynane harbour, the most beautiful anchorage on the west coast, surrounded by white sandy beaches and dramatic coastline.

 

- Hanging out with the seals at Glengarriff and exploring the numerous islands in the bay by tender, sneaking onto Garinish Island to experience the tropical climate and amazing gardens there

 

- Looking up and being truly humbled by the sheer cliffs in Co Clare, at Loop Head in the Shannon estuary. Watching the impressive sea stacks looming out of the foaming waters.

 

- Taking our two Killybegs stowaways for an adventure down the coast from Killybegs to Galway, luckily having one of the most picturesque days on the water, surrounded by amazing wildlife and catching huge fish

 

- Walking for miles in the pissing rain on Islay in Scotland in order to sample the finest single malts the island had to offer

 

- Completing our harrowing passage from Baltimore to Kinsale the day the Astrid sank and being greeted in Kinsale by our amazing Swedish friends that we'd met in Galway, who'd come out to take our lines and offer us a great evening aboard their boat in the dry

 

- Meeting our good fishing friend Markel again in Cork and enjoying his amazing generosity in the form of a huge quantity of fresh tuna, followed by sharing a few pints and tales with him before our departure back to the UK

 

 

(Huge quantity of tuna)


 

Top Things I'm looking forward to back on land:-

 

- The reassuring feeling that if I drop something outside my house it doesn't automatically melt into the pavement, leaving me swearing at the ground

 

- The prospect of the first bath in months, I may be in there for some time...

 

- Driving to my Mum's house, stress free parking outside the house, without thinking about tide, wind, lines or fenders. Going inside, enjoying some family company, watching some favourite films and drinking wine.

 

- Seeing friends we haven't seen for months and having a good catch up over a drink or two

 

- Not bashing my head/arm/leg whilst getting in and out of the boat/toilet/cabin

 

 

To be honest though the sea has been where we've been happiest the last three months and I can't see that changing in the near future. We're certainly not throwing in the towel just yet and are looking forward to getting back on it as soon as Aleks gets back. The final leg will be a matter of a few weeks, and then realistically we both have to get back to work. There's always talk of next year though, and where we might want to get to, Spain's a possibility, but the west coast of Ireland may end up luring us back!

 

Today we're back enjoying the south coast of Cornwall after arriving in Falmouth last night. The Scillies idea would have been a good stop, but after some searching we discovered we didn't have paper charts for the Scillies so decided to give it a miss this time. The skies here are blue and the sea is a mill pond for our short potter up to Fowey, where unlike Ireland we'll be jostling for position somewhere in the harbour. Over the next few days we'll be making our way slowly to Teignmouth where we intend to leave Tiko whilst Aleks is offshore. Along the way we intend to drop in on some well trodden cruising ground for us, namely the river Dart where we both grew up. It'll be great to enjoy these places at a leisurely pace after a tiring crossing from Ireland. A four hour stint alone at the wheel at night is quite enough for me.

An Eventful Evening in Crosshaven

Posted by happylyns on August 3, 2013 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

 

It's been a week of avoiding sailing, partly due to the high winds currently dominating the surrounding area, and partly because of Cross Haven's drinking scene. We collected my brother Chris and his girlfriend Katy in Kinsale, and we had a lovely sail out to Cross haven, skirting around some showers to leave us with a dry first sail with them. A glorious couple of days in Crosshaven were spent mainly on Tiko, sunning ourselves, pursuing oysters and wine. We were very pleased to discover our Swedish friends were there ahead of us, and we could finally repay some of the enormous hospitality by having them back on Tiko for cheese and wine before they departed for Dublin. We were sober long enough to go for a sail out in the bay, and our guests got to receive the first splashes of sea water on their virgin oilskins. We weren't out for long however as the drinking establishments held more of a draw for us back in Crosshaven.

 

Crosshaven will have provided us with quite the send off, as we met up with a couple of friendly faces we know from Plymouth, Gareth and Lenny who live in Ireland. We had them both down to our boat for a look at our floating home and a spot of lunch. Lunch however comprised of a few tins of Tuborg, some cashew nuts and a couple of bags of haribo.  The unconventional lunch was punctuated by Elly falling in the marina for the fifth time on our three month trip, having yet again misjudged the distance between the boat and the pontoon.  So having emptied the contents of our fridge, Lenny suggested walking down to Cronans for one before heading for home. Cronans just happened to hold a couple that Lenny knew, and before long the one drink turned into a full scale pub crawl, comprising of trying every watering hole between Cronans and Tiko.

 

The evening peaked for me when we reached "Johnny Returns" a friendly boozer with a strange lady doing cabaret in the corner. I tried to convince her to do a Snow Patrol song, and asked if I could sing with her. She told me it was supposed to be cabaret, not karaoke, and that the landlord wouldn't be too pleased. Despite this I continued to badger her every time I walked past until she relented and started playing "Chasing Cars" for me. I cheered and began walking back to my seat, only to be grabbed by the shoulder and a microphone thrust in my face. She had no intention of singing along, so after a stuttering start I sang my little heart out, much to the amusement of our companions. I had a fear that the pub's patrons were looking on with barely veiled disgust at my having high jacked the cabaret performance, but I received an applause at the end so they can't have been too pissed off. It quickly became apparent however that our two Irish comrades were a little worse for wear so we thought it best to take them back to the boat for a nightcap. The rest of the night's events will have to remain a mystery to anyone reading our blog. If you meet us in person in the future we'll happily relay the evening's unbelievable conclusion but for now the reader will have to be content in the knowledge that we may have to bring a different boat back to Crosshaven, as Tiko's name has been somewhat soiled.

 

The last few days have been stressful and uncertain, as a job offer that Aleks has accepted was potentially requiring us to drop everything and somehow get ourselves to London. This held all sorts of issues for us, as public transport with the dog is an impossible task in Ireland. We were left with the option of sailing back all the way to Teignmouth to store the boat on a cheeky 40 hour passage, or finding a hire car - ferry - hire car option last minute. The weather was forecasting force 5 - 7 on the nose, which for those outside of the sailing game, is basically NOT GOOD! However the officials in Angola never got their act together to get Aleks' visa signed off in time, which means happily for us, we can wait until Monday to sail to the Scilly Islands and beyond in calm seas.

 

Today has been spent nursing our hangovers in Cork, sedately wandering the city's streets drinking coffee and admiring the various goods laid out at "The English Market". Looking forward to meeting the legendary Markel again later this evening that we first met in Killybegs, who's back in Crosshaven this evening after a successful fishing trip. We'll have to work hard not to be drawn back into the drinking scene with him this evening, otherwise our stay may end up as a Killybegs round two. It's great to be ending our stay in Ireland on a high, as we were beginning to feel more than a little depressed about having to abandon our adventure in the pouring rain, scrabbling around to find a means of transport home. It would also have been a shame to leave Ireland without utilising Aleks' speargun, which brought its first success in Crosshaven. Aleks and Chris went out for a late night stalk around the marina, coming back very proud of themselves at having hooked a mullet. I did ask if maybe it was cheating to shoot the mullet from the pontoon rather than from in the water, but this was met with nonplussed expressions. Markel has promised us some fresh tuna from his recent catch which will most definitely be an upgrade on our marina caught mullet which will most probably be destined for baiting the line on the onward journey to the Scillies. We're looking forward to the Scillies, as its probably been the most recommended spot by all other sailors we've met along the way. Perhaps we'll use the visit to stage something of a detox after 3 months of attempting to keep up with the drinking abilities of the Irish folk. So it's to be so long to Ireland, we hope you are left with fond memories of us, as we will have of you... Until next time

Escaped Unscathed

Posted by happylyns on July 26, 2013 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (3)

The stay in Baltimore was a rough one, as the wind got up to about 25 knots during the night which we haven't experienced whilst at anchor before. Happily the anchor held fast and we didn't budge all night. The joy over the anchor holding was soon wiped clean by the view of the harbour entrance which was a mess of choppy waves as the wind howled down the narrow entrance. Aleks filled me with optimism by pointing out "We will get wet leaving the harbour." He wasn't wrong. By the time we'd freed the anchor, which, judging by Aleks' heaving shoulders as he wrenched it up was good and set, the harbour entrance was looking less and less appealing. We passed a fishing vessel that had come into the harbour to anchor, which is never a good sign. Once upon the entrance we were reduced to around 3 knots speed over the ground and the sea resembled something more like an angry foaming monster as we were pummelled by short waves, which if we managed to ride up the first one we were completely engulfed by the second. We were asking the sea politely if we could please leave the harbour unscathed, and the sea responded with a "Computer says no." Some sort of primal response from within me was telling me that pointing the bow of our boat into this sea was a bad idea, and that a more fitting weapon of choice would be a big pointy spear shouting "GET BACK, get back!" at the onslaught of wave after wave in the face. After what seemed like hours we got out of the harbour entrance, and the sea reduced its ferocious nature, marginally. Not quite enough though, on this occasion.

 

We began to think about putting some sail out to steady us in the swell, the main sail being out of the question unless we were keen on losing one of us over the side getting the thing up. So Aleks uncleats the genoa outhaul in preparation to pull it out. At the very same time I hear a ping noise, which amongst the slamming and splashing I disregarded, but Aleks sat bolt upright and exclaimed "What was that?!?" We quickly looked about us, and spotted that our tender was drifting off behind us, upside down, the splice holding the painter to the bridle on it having pinged open. "SHIT!!" Was the word of choice, and I started wheeling around to save it, time being of the essence as we had only just escaped the harbour where the waves were washing viciously over the rocks. The first attempt Aleks just missed it with the boat hook by a few inches so I quickly motored around again and this time he snagged it, but with the pull created by us moving one way and the tender in the other it almost pulled the boat hook out of his hands. He pulled the tender up through the guard wires and hooked the bridle onto a winch so we could then find a more secure method of attaching it back to Tiko. We just happened to have a climbing strop with a carabiner on the end on the deck which Aleks quickly attached. Not a second later the genoa unfurled itself as we'd neglected this detail when attempting to rescue the tender. Tiko tender was then dumped back over the side to make room to sheet the genoa in on the winch it had occupied. The tender then went back to surfing the huge waves behind the boat now safely attached, and we got back on track to get as far away from the coast as possible. We collectively let out a huge sigh of relief and discussed how lucky we were to have got the tender back - as if it hadn't been upside down when we collected it, it would have been impossible to snag in the conditions.

 

The rest of the day was spent testing the limits of our waterproofs, which as we found out, started out getting wet from the crotch out wards, and not because we were scared, but because we were taking full waves straight into the cockpit as we were mainly beam onto the building swell. We were surprised to find that some waves quietly sloped up on us, sliding over the side like a wall of warm bath water, and that others hit us in the face with a cold hard slap. Tiko took it in his stride though, and we were extra careful that day to give the headlands a phenomenally wide berth as we had heard atleast two Maydays on our trip round from Baltimore to Kinsale. One which we heard crackling over the VHF saying that what we thought was a boat called "Asterix" had lost its engine and was now on the rocks. We later found out upon making it into Kinsale that the boat was infact "Astrid" a 130 foot tall ship, with 30 people onboard, and that the rescue had been one of the biggest air-sea rescues in Irish history. See the video at:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23430217


 


(One sodden hound... check!)


We were more than a little relieved to reach Kinsale ourselves after our damp crossing. Elly won the award for wettest crew member, winning a year's supply of dog biscuits. She was more than a little concerned as she looked up after each wave engulfed her in the cockpit leaving her a sodden mess. After the first few times she just gave us an exasperated look and lay back down, her ears floating about her in the sea water accumulated there. Upon our arrival into Kinsale, the waves died off and we began motoring up to the town marina. Watching as a number of sailing boats exited the harbour to go off racing, most certainly wasn't envying them. We were directed to moor up next to a large whale watching boat, so we slowly pottered up to moor alongside. It was the most brilliant welcome that awaited us on the whale boat, as Lotta and Staffan had come to take our lines and to invite us to dinner in the dry on their yacht. Happy days, as it had just started hacking it down with rain to add to our already sodden state. So we wrapped Elly up in towels and allowed her the privilege of the saloon sofa seats to re cooperate whilst we wined and dined on Chelonsia. Nothing quite like running into a couple of friendly faces when you've had a tough day in the elements! Many thanks to you both, hopefully we'll see you in Cross Haven before we go our separate ways from Ireland.



(Myself, Lotta and Staffan on Chelonsia) 


Kinsale has been a dry and sunny place for the past couple of days, which has been lucky, as we've been able to dry out Tiko, our clothes, do our washing and generally potter about the town in the sunshine. Kinsale is really nice, the marina a constant hive of activity with tiny sailing dinghies coming and going as well as the bigger yachts. This is clearly a very active sailing community, which is great to see. It was a pleasure to watch the Dragons go out for racing last night, which I first spotted in Dun Laoghaire and had admired their timeless design and clean lines. The town itself has a nice smattering of shops and cafes and the quayside is lined with colourful hanging baskets meticulously pruned daily. A couple of nice walks have been recommended by locals, so we'll try and treat Elly to a long one before provisioning Tiko for my brother's arrival tomorrow morning!



Conquered the Fastnet Rock!

Posted by happylyns on July 23, 2013 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

It was a solemn start to the day leaving Glengarriff. The mist was in and there was light rain which makes putting me on the helm a mistake. The light rain liberally coats my glasses and the mist then leaves me totally blind. Thus followed a half hour of wiping down the glasses every few minutes until the mist and rain lifted. Unfortunately the morning held a tragic loss in Bantry Bay, as the lifeboat went out searching for the body of a 27 year old man discovered missing at 3am that morning. He was found later that day, and we could only speculate as to how he had come to that end.

 

The weather picked up for us as the morning wore on and we got a good sail in followed by a little fishing stint when we spotted the tell tale signs of diving birds up ahead. All we kept hauling up were mackerel after mackerel, just little tiddlers at first. Once we got to two that looked big enough I began motoring away from the cliffs. Elly had a good afternoon after this little fishing expedition as to her delight the mackerel had been in a feeding frenzy on tiny little sprats or such like, resulting in a scattering of them falling onto the deck out of the mouths of the greedy mackerel. She then feasted on miniature sushi, treasure hunting the cockpit until she'd found all the stragglers. She eyed up the mackerel we'd caught once the small fish were finished with a similar hungry look - no houndy, these are ours!

 


(Leaving Crookhaven under sail)


Our port for the day was to be Crookhaven, a remote village around 40 miles south of Glengarriff. It was great to be able to sail all the way in, as we'd been so lazy we'd simply unfurled the genoa and sailed the whole way in on that at 6-7 knots, it seemed pointless putting the main up based on those speeds! Crookhaven was a great spot, managed to get the last visitor's mooring for the night so quite a busy port for visiting yachts. Pretty great seafood restaurant on the harbour front, and a nice pub, O'Sullivans. Met a nice couple there from Leeds who fancied swapping the canal boat life for a week's sailing. Well, the husband wanted to swap, the wife not so much. We left Crookhaven today, at a leisurely pace. Stormed out to the Fastnet Rock, perfect sailing conditions for Tiko to strut his stuff today. Cheered as we passed the rock, marking a significant milestone in our trip, but reminding us that we are moving towards the homeward stretch now, at an alarming rate! We're currently anchored at Baltimore, which is rammed with boats as there has been some sort of regatta on here. Hopefully Kinsale will have a few more spaces available and we can find a safe spot to restock and chill for a few days before my brother and girlfriend comes to sail for a few days. Very excited about seeing the first family member after almost three months aboard Tiko, fingers crossed for some sun Chris!



(Passing the Fastnet rock)


1000 Miles Conquered

Posted by happylyns on July 21, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)


(Elly's favourite swimming spot, Tiko anchored in the background)


(Aleks about to set off on his speargun mission)


The crystal clear waters and brilliantly white sandy beaches had us staying in Derrynane another night. Aleks was hell bent on shooting a mullet with his speargun, so on our first evening dons his extra thick wetsuit, much to my mocking, (as it was definitely warm enough to go in without) and set off around the harbour. Elly watched on with concern and a look on her face that implied "Oy you're going the wrong way the mullet are right here!" With comedy timing Aleks proceeded to snorkel around the bay, Mullet splashing in the places he'd just been. He persevered for a few hours before wandering back, disappointed, but determined to get something the next day. The next day was a different approach, one much more successful, as he caught a small pollack. However upon spotting the fisherman arrive back on his mooring I heard the outboard fire up and Aleks was gone in a flash to spy the chap's catch. He comes back triumphant as if he'd caught them himself, a lobster and a load of crab's claws for 15 euros! That's enough ingredients for a good bouillabaisse for sure! I was a little concerned at first that the very much alive lobby lob was going to hang out in our tiny boat fridge until his despatch later, which made retrieving a beverage that little bit more challenging.


(Aleks' catch of the day, spot the fishing vessel in the background that we acquired them from)

 

As the weather was looking to continue to be sunny and calm we pushed on towards Bantry bay, but we could have spent far longer pottering about at Derrynane as it was one of the most beautiful spots we've anchored in on the west coast. Another day, another two vessels in trouble at sea. One, a sailing vessel, "Axiom" (which Aleks and I are sure we've seen somewhere but couldn't place it) had hit a rock in Bantry bay and were taking on water. Luckily they weren't far offshore and were able to stem the flow of water before going into shore to be lifted out. Another yacht "Infinity" had snagged a rope in their propeller and as a result of their immobilised engine had drifted and gone aground. It's times like these that we look at each other, and make that sort of uneasy face that means "Thank goodness it wasn't us" and then discuss the reasons these things happen and reassure ourselves that we've been careful about the routes we've chosen that day.

 


(The pollack Aleks is proudly filleting, just before the landing net went over the side :-O)


The day for us however had its own successes and failures, but nowhere near to that degree. Aleks spotted a load of birds diving into the water ahead of us around Dursey head and altered our course to go and investigate. A few seconds into dunking his line the rod was bending with quite some force and I rushed to fetch the landing net. The extra large landing net was only just big enough to fit the pollack in, which meant the next hour or so Aleks was beaming. Not for long though however, as the net had been left in a precarious position on the deck(not by myself), so after an hour or so's beat into wind, the net gave up holding on and fell over the side. As we're in a pretty remote location now, the chances of getting another landing net before say Kinsale, are looking slim. Poor Aleks, but as the weather was brilliant, and we were getting a good sail in, he didn't stay depressed for too long.

 


(Beating to Glengarriff)


(The seals aren't shy around the bay in Glengarriff)


Our destination in Bantry Bay was Glengarriff, which had been recommended to us by our sailing friend John that we met in Scotland. On the approach to Glengarriff you are greeted by a vast colony of seals playing and splashing about on the little islands in the harbour in front of a backdrop of mountains and trees - trees which we haven't seen for miles along the west coast. Talking of miles we decided to celebrate with a glass of sparkles at our new port as we've just achieved our first 1,000 miles travelled in Tiko on this trip around Ireland. That may not sound like far to some crusty seadogs but it feels like a lot! And is hopefully the first thousand of many more to come. It was also great to break through the 1000 barrier sailing at almost 7 knots to windward beating another sailing boat into the harbour. From our mooring we ventured out today to Garinish Island, which is raved about all over the town. We found an inconspicuous route to getting on there without having to encounter the vast swathes of tourists being ferried to it. The place is beautiful, an exotic walled garden filled with plants and trees from all over the world, the island seemingly having its own warmer climate than the mainland. Unfortunately it was approaching high tide, so our oyster search will have to wait until later. Next on the horizon is Crookhaven, which we'll try and get to before the weather breaks leaving us sailing in the rain, which is never something you look forward to. It might then be a wet passage onto Kinsale, which we're looking forward to (the place not the getting wet).



(View from the Garinish Island over Glengarriff)


 (Italian garden on Garinish Island)

(Garinish Island, Beautiful)


Skelligs and Orange Gin Puppies

Posted by happylyns on July 19, 2013 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The past few days have been blissfully chilled. Having made fantastic progress in the last week, we had the luxury of taking our time around Dingle. Our journey from Carrigaholt was another sunny but wind free day and we stopped just short of Dingle in a place called Ventry. A sheltered spot with a long sandy beach and a couple of pubs. Elly perked up on the approach with her nose pointed to the sky, sniffing out her next landfall. The journey to Ventry was like nothing you would experience on any other coast. The cliffs towered above us as we slipped past through Blasket Sound between the mainland and the Blasket Islands. A local at Ventry gasped at our chosen route, exclaiming that fishing boats had mysteriously disappeared in the Blasket Sound in recent years. We liked Ventry so much that we came back there for the night, after spending a day in Dingle.



(Dingle's dolphin shop)


Dingle held a great deal of character and an intriguing selection of pubs. Was surprised to find that every other building in Dingle is a pub(Dingle boasts around 60 pubs), and that most of those pubs are also pub/hardware/antique shops, very quirky and random. Not sure how they all survive when the tourist season is over. One such pub which I forget the name of held a few interesting characters, one of which got a little too friendly, an old retired farmer in his 80s who's accent was so thick I could only make out the occasional word. We beat a hasty retreat back to Tiko, a little too hasty unfortunately and I clumsily fell over in my usual fashion grazing my knee. Aleks was on hand with some unconventional first aid - an antiseptic wipe taped on with duct tape for the night! We stocked up whilst in Dingle with food, fuel, water, booze, all the essentials and headed back out to Ventry catching a pollack on route. There's a great little French restaurant there called The Skipper run by an eccentric Frenchman and his son which is well worth a visit for the quality seafood and friendly banter. Distinct lack of dolphin memorabilia too which was a welcome change from the Dingle tourist scene. For anyone unfamiliar with Dingle, it boasts its own dolphin called Fungie who supposedly greets all incoming vessels to the harbour. Unfortunately we must have come in when he was having a lie in as we didn't spot him. Either that or he was tired out from all the tourist boats chasing him about the harbour.

 

Today is the first day for some time that we've actually been able to sail anywhere! We left Ventry around 10 when we were evicted by the Blasket Island ferry for stealing his mooring, conveniently unmarked and yellow in colour - that of most visitors moorings. Once out of the bay we hoisted the sails and were tooting along at a comfortable 6.5 knots. Another amazing dolphin sighting, this time I scampered up to the bow on Aleks' recommendation and watched them surfing the bow wave. Our journey down south today has taken us past the Skellig islands, which we didnt want to miss given the recommendation from a number of fishermen. They didnt disappoint, approaching the largest island, Skellig Michael, resembled a miniature mountain towering out of the sea. Aleks then informed me that monks lived there around 1400 years ago choosing the ridiculously remote island as their home. To quote the pilotage guide on this island -

 

"At the very summit of the island is an extraordinary hermit's cell, to which it is presumed a monk could retire when the pace of life on metropolitan Skellig Michael grew too hectic."

 


(Skellig Michael in the background)


(Have never concentrated on a transit line so hard in my life, entrance littered with rocks to either side of Derrynane)


It is a shame that it's too deep around Skellig Michael to anchor and venture in to explore, but we enjoyed the view from the sea nonetheless. Our harbour for this evening is one called Derrynane which looks not altogether unlike the entrance to Lagavulin, which I was terrified of after our grounding. Was amazed to discover that a Swedish couple we met in Galway had run aground in the exact same spot in Islay, having made the same mistake as us in trusting the charts. Thankfully the friendly Swedes, Lotta and Staffan had been to Derrynane before us and recommended it as a good spot to anchor. A couple of attempts at anchoring and we're happy as Larry, watching a Frenchman trying to retrieve his fishing line ironically snagged on a fishing boat and we're now drinking a new cocktail we just made up. Aleks came up with the catchy name when I said he couldn't have orange juice but he could have orange slush puppy, as the fridge had got a little over excited on the way over here. He then says "Orange what? ... Orange Gin Puppy?". I said that didn't seem like a bad idea, so here we are, in fantastic surroundings, glorious sunshine, drinking Orange Gin Puppies.



Sailing joys

Posted by happylyns on July 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (2)

Drawing to the end of a wonderful day on the water, and decided to capitalise on my ridiculously high spirits and optimism for the journey ahead. It struck me that upon a day's sailing such as today, I should reflect on what the best parts of living this life are, so that in lower times I am reminded of how great it can be.

 


(A pic of us taken from our friends Lotta and Staffan on Chelonsia on our team cruise to the Aran Islands from Galway.  The most glassy seas we've ever witnessed on the west coast!)


In former times I may have held a fear for the unknown and a dislike to change. This trip however has taught me that the greatest days are the ones where you have no idea what you will see next, or what will potentially amaze or scare you. Today our plan was to travel from Inishmoor, one of the Aran Islands, down to an anchorage by Mutton Island in Clare. Upon arriving there around 4pm after a very short 22 mile hop down, we discovered it was entirely unsuitable, offering barely any shelter, and a seabed that was not sand as promised, but heavy kelp. Only other option was to travel the extra 40 miles down to the Shannon estuary to seek out the guaranteed shelter of Carrigaholt Bay. The following journey has been fantastic, another pod of dolphins playfully following us through the waves never fails to conjure a childlike joy between the two of us.

 

Something that will always stay with me is the sheer majesty and beauty of the cliffs and features of the west coast of Ireland. Viewing this from the sea feels extra special in these calm conditions in brilliant sunshine, as we have had to endure far rougher weather in depressing conditions to reach this point. It's times like these that we look at each other and share an inane grin and sing a silly song to Elly as we realise how lucky we are to be out here. Once we believe we must have seen the most amazing scenery to be seen on this coast, the next corner presents an even more impressive formation of cliffs or sea stacks



 

Back at home a great source of frustration was Aleks' abysmal memory over where he last put down his keys/shoes/phone/etc. I'm always safe in the knowledge here that it is impossible to lose anything on Tiko, and we never have to experience that sad moment where you pack up your belongings to travel to your next destination, as our home is constantly with us. My first thoughts when we started out on this trip were that the niggles of sailing life would eat away at us until we got home sick for things like a hot bath, running water, huge living space and all the conveniences that come with city living. A couple of months into this trip mean that a shower feels like a luxury rather than a necessity and never have clean clothes held such joy. A glass of wine after a long passage actually tastes 100 times better than one drunk after a day at the office - it just does! Not once do we think we might be missing something on tv and we find our entertainment in my well thumbed favourite books, Aleks' fishing rod, Tiko's outdoor speakers and the endless supply of locals with a story to tell over a pint. The only thing that could make this experience better would be to ship over some of our family and friends to share it with! Hopefully that will change in a short while when my brother Chris and his girlfriend Katy come to join us for a bit of sailing along the south coast.

 

Just in case any of you were thinking my torrent of positivity must have reached its peak here's a run down of our top 10 favourite parts about sailing:-

 

1. We are masters of our destiny, if we don't like a place, we leave quickly (weather dependent that is)

2. Being rocked gently to sleep by the waves in a sheltered anchorage with no one to be seen for miles, so physically tired that you fall asleep immediately

3. Dolphins, and other amazing creatures of the sea

4. It makes you grateful and appreciative of every little thing from the small things like a scavenged piece of wood used to make a fender board to the bigger things, like a break in the weather that allows a few days calm sailing to get round the more exposed parts of the coast

5. The attitude between fellow sailors to exchange knowledge, tools, fishing tips, food, a glass of wine, tales of woe and most importantly to help each other in any way possible

6. Making it onto a sheltered mooring just before a storm kicks up

7. Numerous mind blowing scenery, sunrises and sunsets

8. The simple joys of a Paraffin lamp

9. Sharing our every sailing joy and woe with our favourite crusty salty seadog Elly

10. Constantly surprising ourselves

 

I'm sure there will be days when I could come up with my top ten worst aspects of sailing, but today is too good a day to dwell on those things. Today is the day to praise our lovely Tiko for making all of this possible.


(The sun setting on our journey into Carrigaholt after a fantastic day's sailing from the Aran Islands)


Summer returns

Posted by happylyns on July 10, 2013 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

All is good in the world, we've made it to Galway, and experienced two of the most polar opposite days of sailing conditions. The day's sail down to Inishbofin was not the scorcher predicted, but a day shrouded entirely in fog. Once we'd left Ballyglass it looked as if the fog would hang around until the sun set in, or so we thought. The fog just continued to get more dense, and we were without sight of land for the whole trip, despite being only a couple of miles off. Anyone who has heard some of our previous sailing excursions will know that fog is possibly my least favourite weather condition, teamed with a new fear acquired on this journey around Ireland of running aground. Our stowaways spent most of the time asleep, as has become the norm of late, which meant we were lacking much needed entertainment for this boring but stressful journey down south. I spent much of my time at the helm swivelling 360 in my seat paranoid that a ship would run us down at any moment. The sun kept teasing us by burning off a little fog, and filling us with optimism before the fog would descend once again, blotting any hope of getting into our intended location without running aground. With this in mind, we changed course and headed for Cleggan Bay, opposite Inishbofin, and anchored in a beautifully sheltered spot as the fog lifted.

 

As you can imagine this coast is somewhat remote, and we have become accustomed to no access to water, power, civilisation etc. However we have been getting by ok being frugal, begging for fill-ups of our water bottles in pubs, borrowing two locals from Killybegs for entertainment and squeezing our rubbish into the not overly abundant bins. That is until recently, when we discovered that at high revs the engine was not charging the batteries at all, and would only make a hint of charging when the engine was in tick over. Aleks suspected the alternator was on its way out, which is more than a little worrying on this coast where large marine supply stores are virtually non existent. So we ramped back on our fridge usage, and struggled on hoping to find a solution at Galway.

 

(Aleks proud with his huge pollack)



(Me & Stephen out on deck enjoying the calm sunny weather on the way down the coast)


The trip down from Cleggan Bay to Galway was absolutely fantastic. Not a cloud in the sky, the fish throwing themselves with gay abandon at our lures, a calm Atlantic, dramatic coastline to look at and great company to share it with. The cherry on the top would have been a nice bit of wind to finish off the perfect passage, but you can't have everything. The fishing looked to be modest at first, with a few mackerel caught, but it was soon apparent that it was to be a two man operation, as a group of heavy pollack snapped Aleks' line. Another lure set up and Stephen poised with a bucket lying on his belly by the water's edge to assist and they were back in business. A huge pollack came up which Stephen had to grab by the gills as our meagre bucket was of little use for the monster. Aleks was beaming as you can see, and it was tremendously good eating. Other fishy sightings included a whale, dolphins, puffins and two of a Sunfish, which Aleks had only ever read about, and was the most strange creature I've ever seen in the sea. One fin that flaps about at the surface, with a body that looks like the head of a shark cut off behind the gills. Stephen and Elsie were looking forward to a swim once we reached our mooring but from the quantities of jellyfish we were cruising through on our way into Galway bay the chances of a swim were looking slim.

 


(Huge quantities of jellyfish)


The day was a scorcher, and at about 8am I'd already plastered myself and Aleks with sun cream, and I wasn't going to let our stowaways get burnt either. As soon as they surfaced I started telling them stories about how you don't feel yourself burning on the water until it's too late, which seemed to do the trick. By the time we reached the mooring in a place called New Harbour, opposite Galway harbour, even I was ready to jump in the water. Despite the odd jellyfish it was a great swimming location around Tiko, and Elly looked on from the boat with jealousy as she sat panting on deck - her time would come later. Fishies cooking, beers flowing, and the boom pushed right out on a retainer for Stephen to attempt some diving which ended in mostly belly flopping.


(Elsie enjoying the cool waters at our mooring in New Harbour oppsite Galway harbour)


(Stephen attempting to dive from the boom)


Not that we could enjoy ourselves too much, as we had to leave our mooring at 5am this morning to get into Galway Marina before the tidal gates closed. Light conditions meant the vein on my head wasn't quite as prominent as usual for my parking efforts this morning, think I'm nailing it! The stowaways slept right through leaving the mooring and parking up in Galway. We had got a couple of hours sleep in before we realised one of us would have to get up to wake them for their bus home. The sailing life has taken it out of them that's for sure! I hope we gave them a good trip down, and that they didn't get too bored. We were just pleased to have some entertaining company, and that the company didn't get seasick despite some big seas. We'll definitely be back to Killybegs, not by sea, but maybe get a hire car and go back to visit some of the best places we've been along this coast. This morning was spent washing down our various salt encrusted waterproofs, and liberally dousing Elly with buckets of cold water. At times like these you really enjoy the luxury of having running water and shore power. On the subject, Aleks narrowed the cause of poor battery charging to the alternator belt, which once changed for a new one was charging at top whack once again, much to our relief. Tiko was baking us by 10:30 this morning so we grabbed the hound and fled for refreshment in the city.

 


(Random)


Always love the randomness of the world when you meet someone you know in somewhere obscure. Today was the day for running into one of a pair of American ladies who we met at Killybegs one sodden day a couple of weeks back. On a similar adventure to our own, but by land, we joked that we may run into them somewhere along our chosen paths, as they too were navigating Ireland, before carrying onto France perhaps. Maybe our paths will cross again and we can enjoy a few drinkies with them. Until then, we won't be going back to Tiko until he's taken on a form that's less like an oven. The plan is to stay for a couple of days minimum, to dry out, take on water, and check out the craic that's been raved about by everyone else we've met in Ireland. Maybe we'll meet another couple of crazy locals that want to join us for the trip down to Dingle!


Galway City


Say what now?

Posted by happylyns on July 6, 2013 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Da-der-ling-ding ding ding ding ding ding... Da-der-ling-ding ding ding.. ding... ding

 

.....tumble weed....

 


(Abandoned houses now belong to the sheep at Ballyglass)




We're in Ballyglass and it's fairly remote, we ventured into shore this morning, after our lengthy passage yesterday. The passage gave Aleks and I a fair soaking, but we were able to treat our guests to a good dolphin sighting and some dramatic cliff faces (from a safe distance). I was blown away by the lack of seasickness in our guests despite this being their first yacht trip. I sat open mouthed at the helm watching Elsie who'd ventured down into the saloon to roll a cigarette whilst the boat was leaping around, made it look like she'd been sailing all her life. I was convinced she'd come back and be sick over the side, but no, not phased. Clearly seafaring's in the blood!

 

Unfortunately it wasn't the perfect day's sailing as we got the sails up and after a couple of hours or so the wind swung right onto the nose and stayed there for the rest of the day. Anyway, Ballyglass in Mayo is interesting. The sheep live in houses left to rack and ruin, and the locals talk so fast even Elsie couldn't understand the taxi driver. Aleks walked along to the lifeboat pier to find some life and ask some questions to the local fishermen about the mooring we'd picked up. He approached a lady outside her house, to ask about the moorings.

 

Aleks: "We're a visiting yacht, are we ok using that mooring over there?"

(Pause)

Irish lady: "a yacht sank in the bay yesterday with 4 people on it"

 

Good, not what we asked but thanks for the info.

 

It seems wherever we travel along the Irish coast there's a path of seafarers in trouble, makes us evermore cautious when coming in anywhere. So we got a local taxi number off of a fisherman, and after many "what's that, say again" from me on the phone, he agreed to come pick us up in an hour - how long it was going to take to ferry the four of us and Elly by tender across the seas and fill our diesel tank up in order to take the empties to shore. Once we got in I called him again, he said he'd be another half an hour, oh good. Aleks tied the tender to the pier, I said I reckon he should bring it in a bit closer, so he did. When we got back from Belmullet the ring we'd tied to was still well under water, oops. Stephen did the heroic thing and stripped off his bottom half and waded in to rescue the tender. And back we are, on Tiko doing the only thing you can do in this remote location, drink cider and sing along to Tenacious D and The Avalanches. Due to be a scorcher tomorrow for our trip down to Inishbofin, a small island further south down the coast.


(Rookie error, tide has come up above the ring we'd tied to, Stephen to the rescue)



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